Neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck... literally!
Your neck muscles are responsible for sustaining your head, and sometimes, due to overuse or incorrect posture, they can get injured. That's when you feel that tension and irritation that keeps you from concentrating at work!
But don't worry, we are here to help! Check out these 5 simple stretches and exercises that will help soothe neck pain and reduce tension in the neck area!
1. Release your thoracic spine.
Use a mat on a foam roller. Place the mat on the ground, sit on the mat with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hips grounded on the mat. Place the roller behind you and slowly lie down so the roller crosses the middle of your back.
Avoid placing your low back on the roller. Keep your hips on the mat, draw in your core, and slowly arch your back over the roller, with your hands behind your head. Keep your chin tucked and your neck in a neutral position (don’t let your head drop back behind you). You should feel some release in your thoracic spine (the area of your spine between your mid back and lower neck). Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Roll the muscles on the side of your neck.
Place a Triggerpoint Massage Ball in between your shoulder blade and your spine and lean up against a wall, with the ball in between your body and the wall. Gently lean your weight into the ball. Roll up and down using small, slow movements and avoid putting pressure on your spine or your bones. Roll for about 30 seconds on each side of your neck.
3. Seated lateral neck stretch.
Sit upright on a bench or chair, feet flat on the floor, core drawn in and shoulders back and down. To stretch the left side of your neck, grab on to the edge of the bench with your left hand. Keep your arm straight, and use your hand to pull your shoulder away from your ear while you gently tilt your head to the right and down. You can use your right arm to very gently guide your head further into the stretch. Do not forcefully yank or pull on your head. Hold each side for 30 seconds.
4. Cat cow.
Start in a quadruped (hands and knees) position with your hands and knees on a mat, hands directly under your shoulders, knees bent at 90 degrees, directly under your hips. Your feet should be hip width apart. Keep your shoulders away from the floor and your ears. Arch your back so your spine curls away from the ceiling.
Start by tipping your tailbone up to the ceiling and work your way up to your neck, finishing off by looking up towards the ceiling. This is the cow position. Move in the other direction, and curve your back towards the ceiling. Start with your tailbone and point it towards the floor, draw in your abdominal muscles and try to push your low back up towards the ceiling, work your way up your spine focussing on creating more curve in your low back. This is the cat position. Finish with your head down, and eyes looking towards your belly button. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
5. Side lying spine stretch.
Lie on a mat on your side, bend your knees and stack your hips, knees and feet. Place your arms straight out in front of your body, with your shoulders and hands stacked on top of each other. Keep your arms straight, and your knees stacked on top of each other while you lift your upper arm and reach up towards the ceiling and behind you, allowing your upper body to rotate, and your head to look up towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your back. Keep your core engaged, and do not arch your spine to gain more range of motion.